Friday, January 27, 2017

Memories and Reflections

Professor Powder with Professor Lance Bosart at the Bosart Symposium
I know I've been neglecting the topics that motivate many of you to come to the blog during my travels the past few weeks, but I hope you will tolerate one more important digression.

This week I have been attending the Annual Meeting of the American Meteorological Society.  I am typically not a fan of the annual meeting because it is simply overwhelming in size (typically more than 20 conferences held jointly), but this year's was a career highlight.  The meeting features two named symposia each year and this year they were held for Bob Houze, a former professor of mine at the University of Washington, and Lance Bosart, who has had a ginormous impact on weather prediction in this country and has been a friend and mentor for almost 30 years. 

Even if you haven't heard of Lance Bosart, he has made your life better through weather forecasting.  He has published more than 200 papers related to weather analysis and forecasting, which according to Google Scholar have garnered near 10,000 citations (a ridiculously high number).  He has also served as advisor to more than 140 MS and PHD students, including many meteorologists who are developing numerical weather prediction models for NCEP, issuing forecasts, watches, and warnings for the National Weather Service, developing prediction systems at private companies, or conducting their own weather analysis and forecasting research at various institution around the country.  

The first time I encountered Lance was probably in high school.  I recall attending a lecture on meteorology at SUNY Albany, where he has been a professor for over 40 years) and believe he was probably the lecturer (the memories are hazy).  In graduate school, I attended several "cyclone workshops" that Lance organized and at which he provided helpful and constructive ideas for my research.  Subsequently, we have collaborated on projects to understand the interaction of fronts and cyclones with complex terrain.  During the Fall of 2003, I spent 3 months at SUNY Albany while on sabbatical, working with Lance, "taking" his advanced synoptic meteorology class, and attending his famous weekly map discussions.  It was a transformative experience that greatly advanced my research and improved my teaching here at the University of Utah.  

It was a great honor to give a talk reviewing Lance's contributions to mountain meteorology at his symposium.  I haven't been that nervous about giving a talk for a long time, but my desire to get the science right and deliver a few good pokes to the ribs was high.  Click here to access some twitter coverage of the entire symposium.  

The Wasatch Weather Weenies Blog should return to regularly scheduled programming next week.  


  1. I will always be grateful that I was a student of Lance's Synoptic Dynamic Meteorology classes, both as an undergrad and graduate student. For my entire life, I am proud to say that I have never "thrown the baby out with the bath water", :) Okay, so that "Lancism" has stayed with me throughout the years. The background on it is from scale analysis of the equation of motion for the atmosphere - a wise analogy to not discard the non-linear terms in the equation. :)

  2. I consider myself fortunate that I had the luxury of being a student at SUNY Albany and having the opportunity to take several classes under his instruction. As an undergraduate student at Albany, I was a bit of a late bloomer and had to do some serious work to pull my GPA from the gutter during my final 2 years. Even then, I probably should not of been accepted to graduate school with my final GPA, but luckily Lance saw something in me and gave me a chance (he supposedly wrote a phenomenal letter of recommendation that made my previous advisor at Plymouth State disregard my 3.1 GPA). If it wasn't for Lance, I probably would not be here at the University of Utah, finishing up the final year of my PhD.

  3. I met Dr. Bosart in 1996 as a high school junior in Massachusetts, looking for a place to pursue a meteorology degree after graduation. He spent an entire afternoon with me at SUNY Albany, discussing his meteorological interests and promoting the university. For months after our meeting, he sent me numerous letters and scientific papers that he had published. I was amazed that he took the time to keep in touch with me, an average high school student, in addition to all of his other interests and responsibilities. In the end, I decided to attend the University of Utah after meeting with an equally passionate and dedicated professor, Dr. Jim Steenburgh. Although I eventually strayed into the world of biology, I want to thank you both for the time you spent with a high school student looking for his next step.